Staying in New South Wales for this post, I’ll be looking at Nicholas Delaney’s road building for Governor Lachlan Macquarie.
There are no records to show exactly when Nicholas began working on the roads of the new colony. He had been an overseer on goverment projects since 1808 and was in charge of a group of convict labourers in 1812. In January 1813 Macquarie signed his free pardon.
It was a good time to be in the building trade. The new Governor made it his business to tidy up the higgledy-piggledy settlement he had found when he arrived in 1810. Sydney would be set out in rational grid lines, the Domain enclosed and roads driven west into the daunting Blue Mountains. Nicholas was to work on all these ventures.
He and his men were busy with a project dear to the Governor – building Mrs Macquarie’s Drive, a long road which encircled Sydney’s Government Domain land. Named for, and planned by, his wife, Elizabeth, the road encloses what are now the Botanic Gardens and takes in her favourite viewpoint, still known as Mrs Macquarie’s Chair.
By luck or careful planning, Nicholas and his co-workers finished the entire drive on Elizabeth’s birthday.
As Lachlan Macquarie wrote in his diary:
Thursday 13. June 1816
This day at 1. P.M. Nicholas Delaney the Overseer of the Working Gang employed for some time past in the Government Domain reported to me that Mrs Macquarie’s New Road – (measuring three miles and 377 yards -) round the inside of the Government [domain] – together with all the necessary Bridges on the same – were completely finished agreeably to the Plan laid down originally for constructing it by Mrs Macquarie.
As a reward for their exertion in having completed “Mrs Macquarie’s Road“, on this particular and auspicious Day, I have given Delaney and his gang of Ten Men, five gallons of Spirits among them – as Donation from Government from the King’s store.
The Governor was obviously delighted at this extra birthday present for Elizabeth. Nicholas and the other men would have been extremely pleased with their reward, too. Five gallons of rum – that’s 40 pints, or nearly 23 litres. Enough for a good party, and plenty left over for use as currency.
There will be more about Nicholas’s road building in the next blog post.
Macquarie on TV
On Australia Day (26th January) 2011 BBC TV showed The Father of Australia, a drama-documentary about Macquarie. Unfortunately it’s no longer available to view, but there are some clips on the Beeb’s site and here’s a link to a clip provided by the programme-makers, Caledonia TV.